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Long Beach Council Supports Sacramento Legislation Limiting State/Local Cooperation In Fed'l Immigration Actions

by Barry Saks


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(Feb. 10, 2017, 11:10 a.m.) -- The Long Beach City Council -- its City Hall Chamber filled to capacity with an overflow room handling an additional small crowd -- voted on Tuesday Feb. 7 to support California Senate Bills 31 and 54, the latter subject to a Council-recommended amendment.

Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez (1st dist.), joined by Councilmembers Jeannine Pearce (2nd dist.), Roberto Uranga (7th dist.) and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (9th dist.), put the item on the agenda for reasons stated in an accompanying memo at this link. (Photo above by Barry Saks)

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California State Senate Bill 31, titled the California Religious Freedom Act, would prevent a "state or local agency or public employee acting under color of the law" from (p)rovid(ing) or disclos(ing) to federal government authorities personally identifiable information regarding the religious beliefs, practices, or affiliation of any individual for the purpose of compiling a list, registry, or database of individuals based on religious affiliation, national origin or ethnicity" and prevents using "agency money, facilities, property equipment, or personnel" for the creation of a list, registry or database "for law enforcement or immigration purposes." California Senator Ricardo (D, Long Beach-Huntington Park) introduced the bill.

California State Senate Bill 54, titled the California Values Act, states it will immediately take place and prevent state and local law enforcement agencies from using "agency or department moneys, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes." It also prevents those same law enforcement agencies from "(p)erforming the functions of an immigration officer." However, it wouldn't prevent the same law enforcement agencies "from responding to a request from federal immigration authorities for information about a specific personís previous criminal arrests or convictions." California Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D, Los Angeles) introduced the bill.

The Council heard over 90 minutes of public testimony. Two speakers spoke against Council support for the legislation, while roughly three dozen speakers testified in favor.

Most of those speaking in favor added that they also want Long Beach to become a sanctuary city.

Photo right by Barry Saks

Just before the last speaker, many in the audience stood up and chanted, "Sanctuary, not deportation."


Photo by Barry Saks

After public comments, Councilwoman Gonzalez made the motion to support the bills, stating that Senate Bill 54 sets a statewide standard. She asked Diana Tang, the City's Manager of Government Affairs, about the bill's status in the legislative process, and more how SB 54 treats violent and serious crime and human trafficking.

Ms. Tang replied that both bills are currently in the Senate; both are designated as "urgency" bills meaning require approval by two-thirds of the Senate and the Assembly; if the measures pass, they will be sent to the Governor for his consideration and SB54 is still in its originally introduced form with no amendments added at this point.

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Responding to the discussion between Councilwoman Gonzalez and Ms. Tang, Mayor Robert Garcia reported he had spoken that day to the Senate Pro Tempore, who told the Mayor he is in discussion with the State Police Chiefs Association to ensure there is interagency communication, particularly regarding human trafficking and other issues, and Sen. deLeon is looking at and supports language that allows for interagency coordination with Federal law enforcement regarding violent and serious crimes.

Councilwoman Gonzalez said that while she supports the both bills, she also supports the type of amendments that the Senate Pro Tempore is pursuing and added this as an amendment to her motion seeking Council support.

Co-agendizer 2nd District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce reminded the other Councilmembers that in November 2016, they had supported a motion that urged the federal Dept. of Homeland Security to grant humanitarian parole to Jose Alvarez (stopped for a broken headlight by CSULB police who noted his undocumented status and held him for federal immigration agents who deported him that night based in part on a 20 year old federal drug conviction.) Councilwoman Pearce said, "As a state and as city we have gone too far and we will not go back."

Councilwoman Pearce asked how the Long Beach Police Department has implemented the California Trust Act, (2013 Assembly Bill 4), which prohibits law enforcement from detaining an individual for Federal Immigration after the individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless specified conditions are met. Deputy Police Chief Michael Beckman responded, and said LBPD complies with the California Trust Act and in the period since the Act's implementation, "I.C.E. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has never provided the Long Beach Police Department a signed court order and/or has traveled to the Long Beach Police Department to take custody of an undocumented immigrant."

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7th District City Councilman Roberto Uranga said, "We are experiencing a President who is a thug, who is a blackmailer and who is potentially an extortionist. He is threatening to withhold federal funds to not only the states and the state of California, but to the City of Long Beach, as well."

Then, 3rd District City Councilwoman Suzie Price said, "I am a descendant of immigrants from one of the countries, where there is currently the 'non-ban' and it has been a very scary time for people in my community, as well, and I actually had an opportunity to meet with them on Sunday...and I explained to people in that community my concerns with sanctuary city." The Councilwoman indicated her concerns centered on the fiscal impact of the city becoming a sanctuary city and sought clarification. Ms. Tang replied that it's currently unclear what the fiscal impact would be.

Councilwoman Price noted that the issue of Long Beach becoming a sanctuary city wasn't on the agenda. She then voiced her concerns about Senate Bill 54 and proposed an amendment to support Senate Bill 31, but asked that Senate Bill 54 be sent to the Council's State Legislation Committee and Public Safety Committee (the latter of which she chairs.) Councilwoman Gonzalez responded politely and declined to agree to Councilwoman Price's amendment.

8th District Councilman Al Austin said it was a "no brainer" for him to support the motion supporting the bills.

9th District Councilman and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said, "These bills on the table they demonstrate some very critical values, religious freedom and trust...The tone in Washington is quickly eroding that trust."

The last Councilperson to speak before the vote was 4th District Councilman Daryl Supernaw. He echoed Councilwoman Price in noting that the issue of sanctuary city wasn't on the agenda, and said that because the item wasn't put on the agenda until Friday afternoon, he was unable to notify residents of his district of the item in his emailed weekly newsletter.

After Councilmembers spoke, Mayor Garcia stated his support for the motion and pointed out that Long Beach is not only a city of immigrants, but also of refugees.

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The Council voted 7-0 for the motion to support SB 31 and SB 54 (the latter with the amendment added by Councilwoman Gonzalez.) Absent were 5th District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews.

The texts of California Senate Bill 54 and California Senate Bill 31 can be found at the following links:

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